8 ways to support the travel industry during COVID-19
Simple ways you can help sustain tourism companies that don't involve travelling (at the moment).
The world is closing its borders and travel is practically non-existent, leaving the tourism industry in dire straits. Thousands of staff are being laid off and at the end of the tunnel some businesses may cease to exist.
None of us wants to say goodbye to our favourite tourism company or passionate small business. While we appreciate you can't travel at the moment, there are ways you can support the industry and ease the financial burden while we all wait this one out. Particularly if you are in an industry that hasn't been negatively affected by COVID-19.
1. Postpone don't cancel
This feels like the mantra of the tourism industry right now. Whatever plans you had for this year, don't cancel and let your holiday plans pass you by.
Instead of demanding a refund, reschedule your trip for next year. Or request to keep that money on credit for use further down the track.
2. Buy gift certificates
From airlines to tour companies and experiences to cruises, travel gift cards give companies money in advance and give you that feeling that a holiday is right around the corner.
You can buy these for yourself or as presents for mates. With uncertainty in the air just make sure that there's a long expiry date attached so you have ample time to redeem it.
In light of the situation, these travel companies have extended their voucher periods.
Restaurants and restaurant groups also sell gift cards which you can purchase now and use when their doors are back open. For example, the Speakeasy Group, which includes Mjolner and Eau-De-Vie have vouchers valid for 3 years. Good Food gift cards can be purchased online and also have a validity of 3 years from the date of issue.
3. Check out their online stores
There's more to buy from travel companies than the experience itself. Often you'll find merch sections where you can inject some funds and help promote their brands. For example:
- Contiki: Sells filtered water bottles and T-shirts.
- G Adventures: Sells outdoor gear including clothes and bags.
- Insight Vacations: Sells travel gear by New Headings. This includes hats, jackets and walking shoes.
- RedBalloon: On top of experiences it sells gift hampers, food, wine, personalised gifts, fashion and accessories.
- Brisbane Airport: Is supporting its stores by launching an online marketplace where you can buy electronics, fashion, food and wine and cosmetics.
- Qantas: Sells everything from electronics and homewares to gift cards and Qantas-branded merchandise.
- Virgin Australia: Rewards store lets you purchase wine and sportswear on top of flights, car hire and hotel stays.
Hospitality is also pivoting its businesses to stay afloat during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Restaurants are offering takeaway, distilleries are selling sanitiser and pubs are transforming into local grocers. Supporting these local initiatives is a great way to keep businesses running and staff employed while yes, avoiding those queues at the supermarket.
4. Or, check out their virtual tours
In an effort to keep you travelling, even at home, zoos are live streaming their animal enclosures, operas are recording their performances and museums and galleries are offering virtual tours of their artefacts and artworks.
They might not necessarily be getting your admission ticket money, but they are promoting their offerings for when you can travel.
They're also clocking up the number of views on their social channels which boosts their online presence.
Here are some local virtual tours and live streams:
- Live From Aus: Virtual events hosted by Tourism Australia. Live broadcast on 15 May at 7.30 pm on The Project. Then, live all weekend 16-17 May on Facebook.
- National Gallery of Victoria
- Melbourne Museum
- Museum of Old and New Art (Mona)
- Uluru via Story Spheres
- Sydney Opera House
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary
- Nature Conservency Australia underwater cam and overwater cam
- The Great Barrier Reef via Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef
- BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre's EagleCAM
- IllawarraFly Treetop Adventures
- Sydney Harbour
- The Australian Reptile Park
- SEA LIFE Melbourne
- SEA LIFE Sydney
- SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast
- Sydney Tower Eye
- Wild Life Sydney Zoo
- Otway Fly Treetop Adventures
- Katherine Gorge
- Whitehaven Beach on the Whitsundays
- Boston Bay by Port Lincoln
- Fortescue Bay
- Great Ocean Road
- Rottnest Island (see above for this Tourism Australia's 360-degree video)
Here are some international virtual tours and live streams:
- Nighttime cherry blossom viewing, Japan
- Yayoi Kusama's Glittering Infinity Rooms
- British Museum, London
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City
- Paris Catacombs, Paris
- Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
- Musee d'Orsay, Paris
- Prado Museum, Madrid
- Uffizi Gallery, Florence
- Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb and Los Angeles
- MASP, Sao Paulo
- Picasso Museum, Barcelona
- Benaki Museum, Athens
- National Palace Museum, Taipei City
- Museum of Modern Art, New York City
- Palace of Versailles, Versailles
- Buckingham Palace, London
- Windsor Castle, Windsor
- Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
- Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna
- Catherine Palace, St Peterburg
- Royal Palace of Caserta, Caserta
- Arctic Forest in HaliPuu Finland: Download app for Apple | Download app for android
- G Adventures: Virtual walking tours and experiences
5. Donate your event ticket
Cancelled events can leave venues, artists and roadies out of work. If you had a festival, concert, play or sporting event that didn't go ahead, you might consider donating the cost of your ticket back to the production.
Yes, you didn't get your money's worth. But if you can spare the cash, your donation can help fund upcoming productions. Contact the venue or production company directly for the best way you can forward on your donation.
Those in need of entertainment can check out these live streams and performances:
- Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
- Sydney Symphony Orchestra
- West Australian Symphony Orchestra
- West Australian Opera
- Australian Ballet
6. Volunteer your talents
Small businesses are exactly that: small. They're likely family owned and run. A way to support that'll only cost you time is by offering up your talents.
Good with content? You can offer to clean up their websites or rewrite their LinkedIn profiles. IT guru? Perhaps you can speed up their systems or upgrade their tech.
Whatever it is, contact them and ask if you can help in any way.
7. Use your social cred to promote them
Whether you have one friend or thousands on social media, you can spread the word by sending a shout-out on your accounts for a company you love that is doing it rough.
Share its posts or write a glowing review if you have firsthand experience using it.
8. Print out and promote their kids' activity sheets
While they wait this one out, travel companies are keeping the desire to travel alive by making activity sheets. They're perfect for keeping little ones busy during the school holidays and yes, are a marketing reminder of the brand.
Print them, use them and share them with your friends. Here are a few goodies:
- Skyscanner: Printable play packs, with new ones released weekly
- Experience Oz: Printable Australia-themed activity sheets
- Merlin Entertainment Group: Educational worksheets, inspirational videos and fun activities based around the Merlin Entertainment attractions. These include SEA LIFE, WILD LIFE Sydney, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and Madame Tussauds.
If you're a travel business doing it tough right now, let us know in the comments below.
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